Grand Theft My Valuable Time or How I Went to a GTA4 Midnight Launch and Learned to Love Wasting my Life Away

This doesn’t have anything to do with HMB or Squidoo, but I need to get it off my chest. Why are ALL videogame stores so terrible? In my area there has been EB’s, Funcolands, Gamestops, Gamecrazys, and hell probably more that I can’t even remember. But EB bought Funcoland and then Gamestop bought EB (or at least I think this was the order of things, my memory is fuzzy and it’s 4:30 am). So now my choices are Gamestop and Gamecrazy. But it doesn’t matter which one you go to, the story is always the same.

Anyway, Grand Theft Auto 4 came out tonight (midnight launch). Knowing this, after running around like a madman (and doing a fair bit of procrastinating) because of me moving in with Petra, I decided to go and finish off my preorder at Gamecrazy so it would make my picking up of the game tonight easier and faster. This was my first error.

Whenever you go into a videogame store it just takes a long time at the cash register. They all insist on having your personal info, so they can track your sales and sell that data, I assume. And even if you go to a place often, they still need to look your name up. So this already just adds time to the point of sale.

In today’s case, I had to trade in old games because I am too poor to actually be able to afford GTA. This takes time, but that makes sense to me. They need to check each disc, they need to look up the price in their computers, they need to hit a shitload of buttons to bring it over to the invoice (or at least I think that is what they are doing). But basically it took me 5 minutes to trade in some games to pay for GTA4 in full. I wasn’t too upset, though I did have Petra waiting in the car for me so I felt bad about that. But I figured it was 5 minutes well spent. It was better than doing it in the long line that I knew was going to exist at the midnight launch.

I was completely and 100% wrong about this. I showed up at Gamecrazy at 12:15, figuring the line would already be moving, I didn’t want to stand around talking to random strangers so I figured I would just show up and get to the end of the preorder line. Wrong. There is no preorder line. There is just one, very long line. So I get to the end of it and realize after 5 minutes that I haven’t moved up one step. I don’t understand what could possibly be taking these idiots so long.

But as I look around I start to notice that even though they have two registers, they just have one line funneling into both of them. So they did absolutely NOTHING for the people who preordered (or in my case completely paid for the game in advance). So why in the hell did I preorder this thing? I am about 40 or 50th in line, and I’m behind all of these guys who have no preorders at all, stacks of like 15 PS2 games to trade in, and I have to wait for all of this. One hour and 20 minutes later when I get to the register it goes like this:

A guy standing to the side of the cashier whose only job is to grab the game off the shelf says “Which version do you want?”

“PS3.”

“Boo, that’s dumb, the 360 version is better” (this, I know from watching videos is factually inaccurate).”

“Well, I want the PS3 version.”

“Yeah it’s cool, I am just a 360 fanboy.”

“To each their own.”

So then the cash register guy asks if I have a preorder. I say yes, I give him my name. He looks it up, this takes maybe 30 seconds, nothing obscene but still this is just all shit adding to the clock. He finds me and sees that it is paid in full. He doesn’t ask me for ID. This I am thankful for because this whole process is already taking too damn long, but if there is ever a reason to slow a transaction it should probably be to make sure that a person isn’t pretending to be someone. Some person in the store when I paid it off earlier could have heard me say my name and with that info alone got in line and got my game, for free. He didn’t even ask for my address. But I digress.

He then says “Would you like the strategy guide, it’s 30% off if you buy it now.”

“Um, no thanks, I have the internet if I get stuck.”

“But the strategy guide also comes with maps.”

“Yeah, and so does the instruction book. And the internet.”

“Ok, would you like the game guard? If you break your disc for any reason for a year we will get you a new one.”

“No thanks, I take care of my stuff.”

“Are you sure, you never know what’s going to happen.”

“Yes, I am sure, can I just get my game please?”

And then something weird happens. He types some stuff into his computer and says “The computer is telling me I owe you $10.” I respond “This is the first thing your computer has said that I’ve enjoyed.” He didn’t laugh.

He gave me $10, I still don’t know why, but shit – I took it. Then he said “just wait a second I need to print the receipt.”

I’m not shitting you right now, these guys use one of those 1993-era dot matrix printers. It took literally 2 minutes for him to print this thing. It finally finishes and he gives it to me and I walk out… one hour and twenty minutes after I first got in line. A line with 50 people tops, funneling into 2 registers.

Now, maybe I am a genius, and these companies should hire me to streamline their shit, but I have a much better solution for them. Make two lines, one for people who are paid in full and one for those who aren’t. This way the preorder means something, and it gives me an actual reason to go into your store and give you money for a product that isn’t even out yet. Secondly, BUY A PRINTER MADE IN THIS CENTURY. Third, and most important, don’t try to sell us all this extra crap when you have a long line filled with people who have been standing around for over an hour. If we wanted the book we would ask for the book. Put a little sign up near the register explaining what “Game Guard” does and if people want it they will tell you. And for the love of god, if you don’t know me by name check my ID or something so I feel like I can give you money in advance in good faith, because right now I know I will never do that again in that store because any dude who knew my name could have walked out with my $63 purchase.

If they did these things I would have been in and out in 15 minutes. Not one hour twenty minutes. Maybe writing isn’t my field, someone should pay me to walk around and just slap the living shit out of game store management until they understand these really simple rules of how to make their customers happy and how to keep lines moving.

I can’t even say I really enjoy the game right now. I played it for an hour, but I’ve been in such an annoyed mood since that whole thing that I’m gonna have to sleep on it and approach the game with a clearer mind. What a damn nightmare though, and that is the last time I preorder anything from that store. And probably any store. I am in no way a fan of huge mega-marts like walmart, but all my fellow internet nerds that I talked to tonight said “yeah i walked into walmart and bought it in 5 minutes.”

UGH.

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Moving up in the world

I am in the process of moving in with the ladyfriend, something that is exciting and will hopefully be enjoyable. But the next few days will be the really unenjoyable part: the move.

I am still going to try to post, but my time will be cut down for a few days. So the thing that would help me the most is if you have a HMB or Squidoo lens you would like featured, just drop a comment here. That will help me because I don’t have the time to search, and it will help you because you can (hopefully) get some more traffic pointed at your lens.

Also, I am in the middle of my first interview, and so far it’s pretty fascinating stuff. I don’t know how long it will take me and this person to finish, but when we do I think it will be something every squidooer will enjoy (and maybe learn some stuff from). So that’s just a teaser about that.

Being fat and moving stuff from the third floor is terrible, I don’t recommend it to anyone. But thank sweet internet Jesus that my girlfriend lives on the ground floor. Whew.

Anywho, throw lenses or other ideas at me, so I don’t have to think and I can just write! Yes.

Money, Money, Money, Money…. MONEYYYY MOONNNEEEYYYY (or compliments, those are nice too)

I’m not even gonna wait to link to it. Would you rather be praised or paid? is one of the best HMB lenses yet. It’s wonderfully simple, yet you can spend the rest of your life thinking about the answer of the question.

The basic premise is would you prefer hearing praise for something you have done, or receive a small amount of money. Like, lets say you do a TPS report at work would you rather your boss come praise you, and I mean honestly wholeheartedly tell you that you are doing really good work. Or would you rather get your check at the end of the week and see $5 added on with the note of “TPS report done.”

It’s a really tough question. Because, as humans living in this modern world, we require both. I need to hear I am doing a good job, and the lack of any comments on my recent posts is proof positive of that! But, at the same time, if someone were to send me an email like “here is $10 for your blog” I would be like HELLS YEAH! I mean, $10 probably means more to me than most people, because I am one poor mofo, but still, money is nice.

But I don’t know, if someone were to leave a comment on my blog like “Mort I think you are a really incredible writer and I can’t wait to read your posts everyday” it would really, really mean a lot to me. It would fuel me for a long time, much more than the $10 I got from a random email that I spent on a pack of smokes and a diet orange soda.

Some people don’t care much about their work though, so that will be a factor for them. My lovely girlfriend, for instance, works because she has to, and she does a really great job (or at least she has a lot of stories about how everyone there loves her). But it strikes me that she could live without all of that. She works and works hard to make money, not to have people tell her she is doing well. She wants to make money so she can enjoy herself outside of work.

Where I, on the other hand, work for the personal satisfaction. My job is a major part of my life (I work in a group home taking care of autistic adults, and I am also a freelance writer with some projects cooking). I absolutely LOVE these things and they are very personal to me. Neither pays amazing, in fact my lovely and intelligent girlfriend makes more than twice what I do in a year, but I get such satisfaction out of them. And the satisfaction comes from hearing that what I am doing is good. I want the people I take care of to love me. I want my readers (and editors, bosses, etc) to really like and care about what I write.

Would I do these jobs without compliments? Yeah, I think I would, but honestly it wouldn’t be as fulfilling. I thrive off of attention and hearing good things, my self esteem needs it. And that means more to me than $10.

Unless, of course, I’m dead broke and out of cigarettes. Then you can take your compliment and shove it up your keyster, GIMME SOME MONEY FOR SMOKES!

Where do you fall on this issue? The lens is already taking off. Join in on the fun.

The Final Cylon

I never make blog posts with serious tittles, I like to have some fun. In fact sometimes I even make the title first and then base the post off of that. But some things are dead fracking serious. And figuring out who the final Cylon is on board the Battlestar Galactica is about as serious as it gets.

Kara (starbuck) is a pretty obvious choice. We know she was fracked with by the Cylons when she went back to Caprica. But, the show likes to make you think one thing and do another. So, wrong, not her.

Baltar is obviously another obvious choice, but it seems to me that the Cylons have just figured out a way to frack with his head. And again, it’s too obvious.

Adama is too old, I think. But then again Saul is one and he is older than dirt. And if that is true then that means that Adama’s kid is also one, or part one. Too messy to explain, can’t be him.

So who else is there really? It’s Laura Roslin, the President. She has visions, she gets diseases and then Cylon crap cures her, she is all Gods crazy. I love her, and will continue to love her even if she is a Cylon, but she is my choice. She is the final one, and she probably heard the music also, but being sick she just played it off as part of her illness.

You heard it here first, suckers.

Now, if you watch BSG, you MUST, MUST, MUST, MUST go to the lens I made about this and you must comment. You don’t have to sign up, you don’t have to write more than “I think ___ is a Cylon.” But this is a HMB lens that can be a lot of fun for us BSG fans as we all discuss it before we finally figure it out in a few short weeks or months. And then we will have a public record we can go back and read and laugh at how wrong we all were.

Go there now!

lol this is a blog post about a HMB lens lol

I think anyone has spent enough time on the internet has thought to themselves “self, why da eff does everyone use LOL when they aren’t actually laughing out loud?” And, in the end, we don’t know. But we keep on doing it.

Well, I am super smart, and I do know why we do it. We do it because that’s what everyone else does.

See, I told you I was super smart. But really, what happens, and I think we all know it, is that we redefine what words mean. LOL at one point meant Laugh Out Loud. Now it’s the digital equivalent to saying “heh.” But that’s cool, word definitions change over time.

When someone says rofl (rolling on the floor laughing) they certainly don’t mean that literally, but it does tell the person that what they just said was a lot more funny and deserved more than a LOL. So we have created this whole system for letting people know how funny what they just said was. “I just farted” might get a lol from me. “I just farted while being yelled at by my wife” will probably get me to drop a ROFL. “I just farted in my bosses office and shut the door behind me, and as I was walking down the hall I heard him break down into tears screaming “WHY GOD, WHY DO YOU HATE ME!?!?!” might get a LOLOLOLROFLOLOLMAOLOL OMG LOL from me.

So, I don’t have a problem with LOL not meaning laughing out loud. I’ve adjusted. But, I do have pet peeves. A lot of people, usually out of a lack of self confidence put lol at the end of a statement to, I assume, give them self distance from it’s content. So if we don’t like what they are saying the LOL makes it ok, because he didn’t really mean it. Or, they just can’t talk about stuff without laughing. I dunno, but it drives me crazy. Stuff like this:

Mort: Hey Flipflap, how have you been?

Flipflap: lol I’ve been good

Mort: Cool what have you been up to?

Flipflap: lol not much, working alot lol

Mort: Hey guess what, I have cancer and I’m gonna die in 6 months.

Flipflap: lol that sucks dude. My dad had cancer lol. I hope you can beat it lol good luck lol.

ARGHHHHHHHH! Why do people do that?!?!?! It drives me so effing insane. I hate it.

But, when it comes down to saying lol to note that you are moderately amused by something someone said, I personally don’t give a shit. Do you? I certainly wouldn’t hold it against anyone who did.

Fefe, who is another in a long list of prolific lensmasters, has posed the question to the HMB community. It’s gotten a bit of traffic so far, lets help push it over the top. Because lol is serious business, and we need to set the record straight once and for all on how it should be used.

Sticking it to the man

I love sports. I do. Sometimes liking them got me involved with people I didn’t particularly care for. Like, in high school, all of the jocks were dipshits. I hated them. But I still played basketball with them, or a pickup game of football. It brought us together, if just for that short period of time. And even though I was that weird kid with a bad hair cut (really long on top, shaved underneath, sometimes with bright colors) I still had a pretty good jump shot and was able to dish out some nice no look passes. People wanted me on their team.

Doing this didn’t make them like me any more, and it certainly didn’t raise my perception of them, but during the game it didn’t matter. If me and some random dipshit were running a fast break and I saw that he had the lane I made the pass and he scored and we would high five or whatever. It worked. The games were a lot of fun. And after the games they went to date rape cheerleaders or whatever jocks do and I went to go listen to music and be angsty about THE MAN!!1!1!!

I was running around heymonkeybrain, as I do multiple times a day, and I finally decided to sit down and read Sports and Politics Do Mix, Boycott the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The reason I had always skipped over it in the past is because I just didn’t know how I felt. I am no expert on China. I mean I know they don’t treat people as well as I think people should be treated (and neither does any other country, ever, but it’s a sliding scale and China seems to be on the low end). So, yeah, I mean I guess I don’t like China because of that. And it seems like Tibet has good reasons for wanting to its own state and it sucks that China isn’t willing to let it happen.

But I am also a realist, I know that China is doing what it thinks is right. I am into individual rights, I am into state sovereignty, all of that jazz. So while I don’t love China and hope they make stride to be a greater country I also know in a lot of ways its none of my business. Now, the more heavy handed they get the more it is our business, because the world can’t just sit around and watch innocent people get trampled. But, starting any shit with China is a messy situation indeed. It trumps the cold war, it trumps Vietnam, it trumps Iraq, it even trumps A shot at love /w/ Tila Tequila. But being that it’s a large undertaking does that make it not worth doing? Who knows, only time will tell.

The way that we, the people, can do anything is to boycott. I like boycotts. I like protests. I like those crazy mother-effers that climb buildings and stage protests like extreme sports athletes with banners on high rises and all that. That’s cool with me. Climb the golden gate bridge and protest the Olympics, not only is it getting your message out there but you are also getting a pretty good work out with all that climbing. And, for the rest of us, it’s pretty funny when they secretly change the route and you look kinda silly. But that is their right also. You can protest, they can avoid. I support both sides.

Now, what I do disagree with is the country boycotting the Olympics as a whole. I think it is an individual decision. If swimmer X is outraged by Tibet and doesn’t want to go, good for him/her. Don’t go. You are absolutely within your rights to do that. But this whole “no one should go” thing is heavy handed. Why can’t we all just decide on our own?

Growing up I had a friend named Jennifer. We weren’t best buddies, but we had many good chats. She was a world class swimmer from a young age and there was this buzz, this hope, that she could someday make it to the Olympics. Now, I was a burnout of sorts, I was good at basketball but my main interests were hanging out and doing nothing, listening to music, watching movies, creating art, etc etc. So we came from different worlds, but I was always so interested in what this girl’s life was like.

At high school parties where I would run into her I would get drunk and just throws tons and tons of questions at her. What was it like being so good? Is there a lot of pressure? Do you feel like you are being groomed for this and nothing else? Do you feel trapped? Are your parents pressuring you? Is any of this even your choice?

Her answers were (what seemed to me) always honest. I’m not gonna spill the beans on this girls life, but yes being that good was really hard work and she was being tugged at and dragged in 9000 different directions, while also just trying to be a normal teenage girl.

I don’t know how far Jennifer ever made it. I’m not up on the swimming scene and I haven’t run into her since high school. Though I did see she was on facebook, maybe I’ll point her to this blog post.

The reason I am telling this story about this girl is because it is my only glimpse into what it is like to train to become an Olympic athlete. And if someone has spent their whole life training for something and they achieved their goal and they want to go fulfill what they have worked SOOO hard for, I say more power to them. And someone who is mad at China (and has every right to be mad at China) can boycott the Olympics if they want, but if a specific athlete wants to go I think they have every right to.

Also, there are a myriad of other reasons why going to China could be good. Number one would be to go there and beat them. Remember when the US beat Russia in hockey in the miracle on ice? That obviously wasn’t the same winning the cold war, but that sure was an emotional contest. It added to the drama that sports inherently already have.

Go to China, you don’t have to like China, it is just a sporting event after all. Go beat them. Go compete. Go have some fun. I didn’t like the guys I played basketball with but that didn’t stop me from playing with them. And it didn’t stop me from draining that three in the corner to win the game and then walking over to the bench, grabbing my stuff and walking away on my own knowing that I just showed them up at their own game.

Weigh in on this debate yourself at this wonderful and multifaceted argument HMB lens.

Podcast #1 – Fumbling to the Top

The first ever famousmortimer podcast includes a rather lengthy discussion on how the blog is doing, and where it is heading, and what he wants from you all. Other topics include how the democrats have already lost the election, why the writer’s strike was good for Lost and why this final season of Battlestar Galactica is literally on fire. The program is ended with some videogame nerdery, a sort of reviewof Rainbow Six Vegas 2, and idle chatter on a myriad of other games including COD4, Team Fortress Two, Pixel Junk Monsters and more.

Podcast #1 – Fumbling to the Top

Either mouse over and use the little built in wordpress thinger to play it, or click the link and it should just sorta embed into the middle of an empty page. Good luck making it the full hour!